Published: October 26, 2021 by: William Morrow
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Jordan Manning is a star reporter in Chicago, and she continues to be a voice for the voiceless. After she covers a string of murders of young Black girls, Jordan becomes frustrated with how soon these girls are forgotten. When Masey James, a 15-year old girl is murdered, Jordan knows that she can turn her anger into action, and she seeks to use her reporting skills to solve the case. She quickly gains contacts within Masey's inner circles. But, solving a crime will prove dangerous, especially when the killer may be closer then she believes.
I've never really watched Tamron Hall on tv, as she's not as popular in Canada as she is in the States. However, the name recognition definitely did make me intrigued to pick up this book, as a reporter writing about a reporter interested me. I knew that Hall would definitely use her skills to produce a factually accurate piece, especially one that provides the reader with an inside look at how newsrooms work. This book didn't disappoint, though there were some issues with it that I couldn't shake. So, let's get into it:
First things first, I really appreciated Hall's sensitivity when writing a crime novel. As true crime becomes such an oversaturated market, full of insensitive portrayals of serial killers and disrespecting victims, I am always weary of reading crime books. Despite this book being fictional, I knew it would play off of the tropes of true crime. However, Hall handles the story with as much respect as possible, as these victims mirror the lives of real-life victims. Hall does well to show Manning's anger with the current justice system and how she seeks to correct it. I also appreciated how Manning slowly begins to learn how to deal with victim's families, and she seeks to teach others, especially the younger interns in her newsroom, how they too can be respectful towards grieving families. At no point did I feel like this book was just profiting off of people's interest in crime content, and I think Hall's expertise in the subject of news reporting really came through in that aspect.
I also think that each character in this book was well-written. Of course, we hear everything from Jordan's point of view, but I actually liked learning about Masey's family the most. Her mother, in particular, is a frightened, obviously very shaken individual, who walks a fine line between wanting to fight for justice for her daughter but also wanting to be at peace. Jordan's interactions with Masey's mother were the most interesting to me, as I think Hall accurately portrayed a grieving mother who has to make some tough decisions, and whose opinions change based on new information she is given. Hall did a good job at showing how victim's families go through a range of emotions and opinions during an investigation, and that their grief is not a one and done process.
I think Jordan was a strong character, and I didn't mind at all reading from her point of view. The problem I had with her, however, is not necessarily a reflection on her character, but how Hall writes about the investigative system as a whole. Manning is given free-reign to interview suspects, investigate neighbours, and head into crime scenes with not so much backlash at all. In real life, I can't imagine that a reporter would be allowed to be as involved in an active investigation as she was, as she was not a detective and yet knew more than the detectives did. It just didn't strike me as realistic that Jordan had as much freedom as she did and didn't experience any repercussions for clearly crossing boundaries in an investigation. In real life, I would imagine that detectives and police would be quite secretive towards reporters, and it seemed in this text that everything was an open book.
I also found the ending to be slightly underwhelming. As I discussed, I really loved Masey's mother's character in this book. However, by the end of the book, once the crime is solved, we do not get to see her reaction to the events that unfolded. She just kinda fades into the background as an unanswered question, while Jordan experiences relief that the crime is solved. For someone who played such a big part in the ongoing build up in the book, to have her not be at the end to see the crime be solved really confused me. I wanted to know her reaction, and I was left guessing.
Overall, this book left me conflicted. It wasn't awful, and had some strong points. But, I didn't leave it feeling fully fulfilled by the ending, and some things just struck me as unrealistic despite Hall being a reporter. I wouldn't not recommend it to people, but I also think that the mixed reviews are valid.
Have you read As the Wicked Watch? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess